One of the more successful books I have written is Live Patanjali! Yoga Wisdom for Everyday Living which I wrote in 2006. When it was published, it was serialised for six consecutive months in the print version of Yoga Journal UK and was subsequently picked up by the main presses. It was also reviewed by the legendary book critic, Suzie Feay. I loved the response and awareness that this humble little book of mine generated. It was just my musings, really.
After its publication, I went back to India, to Rameswaram, to find the sage who helped me. The year before, I sat for close to a month with him at the doorway of the temple: me reading the Yoga Sutras of Shri Patanjali in Sanskrit whilst he sat and hoped for coins from pilgrims, blessing them with his words.
Imagine my joy at finding him in the same spot!
However, the book I wrote was only half the story. For the Yoga Sutras of Shri Patanjali is in four parts, and in my book, I only covered the first two. This was because I felt I wasn’t ready to write the latter parts.
Pada 1: Samadhi pada. Understanding the mind and the principles that lead to stabilising the mind and finding the bliss within.
Pada 2: Sadhana pada. This is the chapter on the practices and tools of stabilising the mind.
Pada 3: Vibhuti pada. Progress. This chapter is about the last 3 of the 8 rungs of yoga, which are concentration, meditation, and samadhi. The sage had explained to me that it’s like the powder Hindus wear on their foreheads. It disappears but it’s very real. It took me quite a few years to figure that out!
Pada 4: Kavalya pada. Liberation, enlightenment, non-self, beyond life.
In the first book, I described meeting my friend’s parents. One of her parents was dying, but the old couple seemed upbeat and happy. In fact, they were quite jovial. I was surprised, to say the very least.
“I’ve already booked my wife for the next life,” my friend’s father told me cheerily. In fact, he was looking forward to the future, namely to beginning a new adventure with his beloved. Hence, it was as if their bodies (infirmaries and frailties) were nothing. Only the love they have mattered. And I think that was why they were free from the suffering, because Love transcends everything.
Which leads me to ponder, what is this Love (with regards to another human being)?
You want to live your life all over again with the same person (including faults and all!).
However dreadful your present moment is, you are optimistic about life because of the person you love holding your hand. Everything becomes bearable, a joy even.
Your love encompasses more than their hearts, brains and sex organs, but all of him/her. It is as if the boundaries between your physical selves have dissipated.
It was a rainy and cold November in 2015. I remember lying in bed, looking at the patch of grey skies in the skylight and the chimneys and rooftops of Battersea. I was too ill to make it down the stairs. I didn’t have any fire left in me. My body wasn’t mine anymore – I couldn’t recognise the skinny, depleted shrunken being who looked back at me in the mirror. But I had Love, and in the end, it was that which transformed me, and I lived again. Death, as Shri Patanjali said, was not only of the physical body but stages of life and aspects of who you once were, and in letting go, we emerge like butterflies from chrysalis.
I have 50 copies of Live Patanjali! to give away. You only need to pay postage for the book, and as it is posted from Thailand, the cost is: THB 470 to UK/Europe (£11.00) and THB 578 to USA (U$19) and the rest of the world. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org